2024 Hiking Guide to Oregon’s Cape Falcon Trail

Photo by the Oregon Marine Reserves via Flickr CC2.

Are you ready to hit the trails and explore the beauty of the Oregon Coast? Look no further than the Cape Falcon Trail! This amazing hiking trail on the northern Oregon coast offers breathtaking views, diverse terrain, plenty of opportunities to connect with nature, and access to Short Sand Beach.

We'll take you on a journey through the Cape Falcon Trail, providing you with all the information you need to make the most of your experience. From what to pack to where to stay and how to get down to Short Sand Beach to watch the waves, we've got you covered.

The Cape Falcon Trailhead

Cape Falcon Trail

Looking to do the gorgeous Cape Falcon Hike? The Cape Falcon Trail is a moderate hiking trail with an elevation gain of 623 feet and a roundtrip length of 4.6 miles.

The trail offers views of Neahkahnie Mountain in the distance to the south (which also has great hiking trails you'll want to try), as well as the forest, seaside, rocks, and ocean below. It doesn't matter if you're hiking on a sunny day or in the rain, the views are always great here!

This park is a 13 minute drive south of the town of Cannon Beach, Oregon and offers a parking area, restrooms, and picnic tables for hikers to use before they hit the trail.

If you're planning to hike the Cape Falcon Trail, it's important to be prepared for mud on the trail throughout most of the year. To ensure a comfortable and safe hike, we recommend wearing sturdy boots with good tread.

Photo by Eric Prado via Flickr CC2.

You may also want to bring a fresh pair of shoes and a plastic bag to keep your hiking boots in when you return to your car so you don't get mud everywhere.

Additionally, hiking poles can be incredibly helpful if the trail is slippery, providing extra stability and support as you navigate through the terrain. So, gear up with the right equipment and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.

As you start your hike, you'll be surrounded by towering Sitka spruce trees and lush vegetation. The first part of the trail is relatively flat, giving you a chance to warm up and take in the scenery. You'll hear the sound of a nearby stream and might even spot some wildlife, such as deer or elk.

The Climb: Testing Your Stamina On The Cape Falcon Hike

Cape Falcon offers stunning views and beautiful forest hikes. Photo by LunchWithALens via Flickr CC2.

As you continue on the trail, you'll start to encounter some steeper inclines. Don't worry, though – the trail is well-maintained and marked, making it easy to navigate. Plus, the challenging climb is worth it once you reach the top.

Once you hit the half-mile mark on the Cape Falcon Trail, you'll come across a crucial junction. If you go left, visitors will embark on a steep descent towards Short Sands Beach, a tempting option for any sun-seeking beach bum. We really can't recommend visiting Short Sands Beach enough!

However, if you're looking to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the coastline, I recommend staying the course and heading right to continue to walk along the trail.

RELATED: 37 AWE-INSPIRING Oregon Trails to Hike

The Oregon Coast Trail And Short Sands Beach

Short Sand Beach Oregon
Short Sand Beach at Oswald West State Park. Photo by Eric Prado via Flickr CC2.

As you follow the trail, you'll be treading on the Oregon Coast Trail, which spans a staggering 425 miles along the state's rugged coastline

So, lace up your boots and get ready for an adventure of epic proportions! And don't worry about the temptation of Short Sands Beach - you'll have plenty of time to soak up the sun on your return trip.

As you continue trekking through the dense forest of the Cape Falcon Trail, you'll gradually start catching glimpses of the natural wonders that lie ahead.

Keep your eyes peeled for the breathtaking Smuggler's Cove and Short Sand Beach, as well as the stunning basalt cliffs that make up Cape Falcon - a testament to the ancient lava flows that shaped this remarkable landscape.

After hiking for about 1.5 miles, you'll follow the path downhill and cross over Blumenthal Creek. Keep an eye out for a small side trail on the left-hand side, leading to the upper tier of Blumenthal Falls.

Blumenthal Falls

This unique waterfall cascades down a basalt cliff onto the rocky shoreline below, but be warned - it can dry up in the summer months.

Once you're back on the main trail, take a few more switchbacks until the trees lining the cliffside start to thin out, offering a clearer view of the beach. Take a moment to watch the brave surfers catching waves in the chilly Pacific waters - a true display of Oregonian spirit!

Cape Falcon Trail

Continuing on, you'll come across a few meadows filled with dense salal. In fact, the very last meadow before reaching the cape is so thick, it feels like you're trudging through an inhospitable jungle.

So, take a deep breath, channel your inner adventurer, and push on towards the majestic Cape Falcon.

Cape Falcon Trail

At the highest point of the trail, you'll be rewarded with an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean. Take a moment to catch your breath and soak in the stunning scenery. You'll see miles of coastline, including Tillamook Bay and Neahkahnie Mountain to the south.

Cape Falcon Trail

The Return Trip: Heading Back to the Trailhead And Parking Lot

Photo by Angel Schatz via Flickr CC2.

After enjoying the beach views and gorgeous crumbling cliffs, it's time to head back to the trailhead. The return trip is mostly uphill, but it's not as challenging as the climb up. You'll be able to take your time and enjoy the scenery as you make your way back.

As you reach the end of the trail, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. You've just completed one of the most beautiful hikes on the Oregon Coast!

RELATED: The 16 Best Oregon Beaches to Dip Your Toes in The Sand

What to Bring: Packing for Your Hike

Natural tunnel on the trail. Photo by Angel Schatz via Flickr CC2

Before you hit the trail, make sure you're prepared with the right gear. Here are some essentials to bring:

  • Hiking boots or shoes with good traction

  • A backpack with plenty of water and snacks

  • Sunscreen and a hat

  • A jacket or rain gear (depending on the weather)

  • A camera to capture the stunning views

Where to Stay: Finding Accommodations

Photo by Eric Prado via Flickr CC2

If you're planning to make the most of your trip to the Oregon Coast and Oswald West State Park, you'll want to stay overnight in the area. Here are some great options for accommodations:

Getting To the Cape Falcon Trailhead

To reach the trailhead of the Cape Falcon Trail, take the Oregon Coast Highway and head either north or south, depending on your starting point.

The trailhead is located in Oswald West State Park, approximately 14 minutes south of Cannon Beach and 44 minutes north of Tillamook.

However, finding the parking lot can be a bit tricky as there isn't much signage, and it's easy to miss the parking lot. There are two parking areas which are located on both sides of the highway.

To avoid getting lost, it's best to input the trailhead location into your GPS app and pay close attention as you approach.

Cape Falcon Oregon
Cape Falcon. Photo by Eric Prado via Flickr CC2.

It's also worth noting that the coastal area and Oswald West State Park has spotty cell service, so it's a good idea to download offline maps on your Google Maps and All Trails apps while you still have a signal. This will help ensure that you stay on the right track and enjoy a stress-free hike on the Cape Falcon Trail.

RELATED: Escape to Ecola State Park: A Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Retreat

Best Time to hike Cape Falcon Trail

Photo by Brandon Rasmussen via Flickr CC2

The best time to visit Cape Falcon and the rest of the Oregon Coast is during the summer months, from July through September. This is when the temperatures can reach the upper 70s or 80s, making it feel like true beach weather. Plus, the skies are usually clear, allowing for spectacular views of the coast.

Summer is also the peak season for surfers on Short Sands Beach at Smugglers Cove, but if you're looking to catch the best waves, plan a visit in the off season in January.

This is when the 20,000 gray whales migrate past Cape Falcon on their way from the Arctic waters of Alaska to the warm lagoons of Baja Mexico. Going to the coast to watch the whale migration is a popular activity.

Don't let the winter weather deter you though - in my opinion, the low-hanging clouds and fog actually enhance the rugged beauty of the Oregon Coast, the coastal views and the many scenic viewpoints.

While the weather can sometimes hinder the great views of the ocean in the distance, some dramatic photos can be taken on a rainy foggy day of the forest, park, and cliffs from the viewpoints on a spring or winter day. So, embrace the elements and discover the magic of Cape Falcon year-round!

Tips for Hiking the Cape Falcon Trail

Photo by Angel Schatz via Flickr CC2

Never hike beyond your ability or skill level.

Go with a friend. Tell someone where you're going and when you plan to return.

Always check to see that the trail you want to hike is open before you go.

Check the weather, and prepare for inclement weather even if it's not in the forecast.

Take snacks and plenty of water with you when you go. You can stop off in Cannon Beach for snacks, gas, or a hot meal before and after your hike! Cannon Beach also has some awesome spots to stay.

Dress in layers. You can shed layers as you go. Keep a fresh pair of socks in the car in case yours get wet while on the trail.

Please follow the Seven Principals of Leave No Trace while out on the trail to help keep our state beautiful and open for hiking future generations.

Be aware of ticks and Lyme disease.

Please note: Hiking is an at-your-own-risk-activity.

Photo by Brandon Rasmussen via Flickr CC2.

We think you might also enjoy visiting Arch Cape, which is just a couple minutes north of Cape Falcon. If you go to Arch Cape at the right time of year, you can check out Hug Point Falls, though Arch Cape is pretty no matter when you visit!

Hug Point Falls at Hug Point in Oregon.
Hug Point Falls / Ian Sane via Flickr CC2.

Have you been to Cape Falcon? What's your favorite part? Did you snap some great photos of the forest? How about Smuggler's Cove? Share with the friends and family you want to go on an Oregon adventure with!